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While a faction of the Montana GOP has focused on allegations of voter fraud related to the 2020 presidential election, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and election officials are proposing reforms to the state’s election security to boost voter confidence in the process.

Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, is sponsoring a pair of bills that would criminalize tampering with vote-counting machines, along with a measure to extend the state’s post-election audit process to include local elections. The proposals emerged from an unofficial working group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers and others, including the offices of the Secretary of State and Commissioner of Political Practices, who began meeting after the 2021 session.

Rep. Steve Gist, R-Great Falls, helped hatch the idea of an informal group to tackle election issues during the interim. Given the often heated — and sometimes misinformed — debates around election processes in the last two years, Gist felt that approach could help “slow the tone down a bit,” he said in an interview last week.


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